Fortress Press

The Crosses of Pompeii: Jesus-Devotion in a Vesuvian Town

The Crosses of Pompeii

Jesus-Devotion in a Vesuvian Town

Bruce W. Longenecker (Author)


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Through a twist of fate, the eruption that destroyed Pompeii in 79 CE also preserved a wealth of evidence about the town, buried for centuries in volcanic ash. Since the town's excavations in the eighteenth century, archaeologists have disputed the evidence that might attest the presence of Christians in Pompeii before the eruption.

Now, Bruce W. Longenecker reviews that evidence, in comparison with other possible evidence of first-century Christian presence elsewhere, and reaches the conclusion that there were indeed Christians living in the doomed town. Illustrated with maps, charts, photographs, and line drawings depicting artifacts from the town, The Crosses of Pompeii presents an elegant case for their presence. Longenecker's arguments require dramatic changes to our understanding of the early history of Christianity. 

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781451490121
  • eBook ISBN 9781506410418
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 366
  • Publication Date May 1, 2016


1. Questions and Answers
2. In Advance
3. The Starting Point
4. The Debate
5. The Cross in Early Christianity
6. The Perpendicular Equilateral
7. Jesus-Devotion in Relief
8. Jesus-Devotion in the Insula
9. Jesus-Devotion in the Letters
10. Jesus-Devotion and the Inn
11. Jesus-Devotion in Transactions
12. Crossing the Street
13. Jesus-Devotion in the Stones
14. Belief and Skepticism
15. Here and Beyond         


"A string of recent TV programs and books have featured assertions about whether there were or were not Christians at Pompeii, without offering substantial backup. It is high time for a much fuller setting out of the evidence and arguments. Bruce Longenecker provides it in this very readable book, setting out existing cases with great erudition and adding several fascinating new arguments of his own."

Peter Oakes | University of Manchester

"In this fascinating tour de force, Bruce Longenecker compellingly shows that there were Jesus-followers in Pompeii prior to 79 CE when the city was destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius. This is then the first material evidence of Jesus-devotion from the ancient world. Longenecker carefully constructs his case, presenting a multifaceted historical background for the evidence, and reviewing and refuting other views. Overall, he considers nearly two-dozen artifacts, most of which have been overlooked by other scholars. He locates where some Jesus-followers lived in Pompeii and what they did, and we even learn of one name. Through this incisively argued study, we come to understand a great deal about the worldviews of the people of Pompeii, the context of these early believers, some of the reasons why they became Jesus-followers, and the complexities of their lives. Longenecker adds a whole new dimension to our understanding of the life of Jesus-followers in the first century."

Paul Trebilco | University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand